Tiny Tums! A five minute guide to healthy eating for one-to-fives

Tiny Tums!
A five minute guide to healthy eating for one-to-fives
Off to a good start
What your little one eats plays an important part in
keeping him or her happy, healthy and growing and
developing properly. Between the ages of one and five
children grow very quickly and become more and more
active. By now they’ll be joining in with family meals and
it’s an important time for them to learn about food.
Tiny tots should be physically active for three hours
every day. This can include energetic play on a
climbing frame and chasing games and also everyday
activities like walking to school and tidying toys.
This little guide
will help get
them off to a
good start.
When it comes to healthy
eating it’s important to
remember that children
aren’t just little adults.
The one-to-fives need to get lots of nutrients
and energy from their food because they
are growing and developing so quickly. But
small children only have tiny tums and can’t
usually cope with big meals. This means
that the foods they eat have to provide
energy and nutrients in a compact form.
The low-fat, high-fibre foods
recommended for adults don’t
fit the bill - they tend to be bulky
and low in calories so tiny tots can
become full before they’ve had all
the energy and nutrients they need.
For example, the one-to-fives should have:
• whole milk and semi-skimmed milk rather
than skimmed milk (see page 6)
• a mixture of white and wholemeal bread
rather than just high-fibre varieties
The one-to-fives need
small nutritious meals with
nourishing snacks in between.
Go for variety
The best way to make sure your child gets all the
nutrients and energy they need is to give them a wide
variety of foods from the four main food groups.
Food group
Key nutrients
Bread, rice,
potatoes, pasta
and other
starchy foods
Bread, breakfast
cereals, potatoes,
pasta, rice, noodles,
chapatis and yams
At least one serving
with each meal and
as some snacks
Carbohydrate for energy
Small portions of these foods
make great snacks
Fruit and
All fresh, frozen and
tinned fruit (in natural
juice) and vegetables
(in unsalted water),
pure fruit juice (diluted)
and dried fruit
Aim for 5 ‘child-sized’
portions a day
Milk, hard cheese,
About three servings
a day of milk, either as
a drink or in the form
of milk-based dishes,
hard cheese or yogurt
Calcium for strong bones and teeth
Try to provide 2 servings
each day for young
children eating meat and
fish or 2 or 3 servings of
a variety of alternative
protein sources each day for
vegetarian young children
Protein for growth and
Milk, hard
cheese and
Meat, fish,
eggs, beans
and other
sources of
Meat, poultry (e.g.
chicken, turkey), fish
(e.g. tuna, fish fingers),
eggs, nuts,* seeds, pulses
(e.g. peas, baked beans,
chickpeas, lentils) and soya
products such as tofu B vitamins
Give a mixture of white, brown
and wholegrain varieties
One portion is about
the amount they can
fit in the palm of their
• Safety: children under five should not be given whole nuts because of the risk of
inhaling and choking.
• Peanut allergy: as long as there is no history of food or other allergies in your family, you
can give your toddler peanuts, as long as they are crushed or ground into peanut butter.
Otherwise if your child already has a known allergy or there is a history of allergy in your
Vitamins - especially vitamin C
Dark green vegetables
provide some iron
Fruit juices (diluted) and dried fruit
should be kept to mealtimes only
as they have higher concentrations
of sugar that can contribute to the
development of tooth decay
Vegetables can be easily added to
soups and stews. Or some children
prefer to eat their vegetables raw
Protein for growth and
Phosphorus for energy release
Iron (especially red meat and liver**)
Other important vitamins and
minerals including zinc and
vitamin B6
Milk can be used in custard, milk
puddings, sauces and soups
Try yogurts as a pudding
or snack
Even small amounts of meat or fish
are useful to help keep iron levels
topped up
Lean meat, tinned salmon, tuna,
peanut butter*, houmous and eggs
all make ideal sandwich fillings
child’s immediate family (either parent or sibling) you should speak to your healthcare
professional before you give peanuts or foods containing peanuts for the first time.
• If you give these foods to your child, they should be given in very small
amounts no more than once a week.
Milky matters
Milk is an important food for young
children. It is packed full of nutrients,
with a 189ml carton of whole milk
(or about 1/3 pint) providing:
• Calcium for strong bones and teeth
• Protein for growth and development
• Energy, vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folate
• The minerals iodine, phosphorus,
potassium and zinc
Try to offer about 3 servings of
milk a day, either as a drink
or in the form of milk-based
dishes, hard cheese or yogurt.
Milk can be introduced into the diet
in soups and mashed potatoes.
Between the ages of one and two, it’s
recommended that you give your toddler
whole milk to drink rather than skimmed
or semi-skimmed milk. Whole milk will
provide more energy and fat, compared
to semi-skimmed milk, which are
important for young children.
From two years onwards, you can start to
introduce semi-skimmed milk if your child is
eating a good variety of foods and growing
well. Otherwise, stick to whole milk. Skimmed
milk is not suitable for children under five.
If your child doesn’t like to drink milk,
try to make sure you offer a selection of
other dairy foods such as cheese and
yogurt. You can also incorporate milk into
dishes such as custard, milk puddings,
fruit milkshakes, sauces and soups.
Milk allergy
Milk allergy is not as common as people think –
it affects about 1 in 50 infants, but is much less
common in older children (most have outgrown their
allergy by the time they start school).
If you think your child is allergic to milk, you should
consult your GP. If a milk allergy is diagnosed, the
doctor will refer you to a Registered Dietitian for
specialist advice. Neither goat nor sheep’s milks are a
suitable replacement for cows’ milk; your child’s body
will react in the same way as it does to cows’ milk.
Soya products should only be used if advised by
a GP or dietitian, as children who are allergic to
cows’ milk may also be allergic to these.
Vitamins and iron
Vitamin supplements
The Department of Health recommends that all
children aged one to five should be given a daily
vitamin supplement containing vitamins A, C and D.
Vitamin supplements are available under the Healthy
Start Scheme. Ask your Health Visitor for details.
It’s important to give young children some iron
containing food everyday. Iron is used to make red
blood cells and is essential for healthy growth. Too little
iron can lead to anaemia, which can affect your child’s
Meat, especially red meat, and oily fish
are good providers of iron.
The iron in other foods such as pulses and bread
is not so well absorbed by the body as it is from
meat. Vitamin C-rich foods (e.g. fruit juice, kiwi fruit,
tomatoes) can help increase absorption so it’s a good
idea to include some of these at the same meal.
For example, a small glass of diluted orange juice at
breakfast time will help make the most of the iron in
the cereal or toast. This is particularly important for
vegetarian children.
Tea and coffee may reduce iron
absorption so are not suitable
for young children.
Where can I get iron?
Red meat and meat products
(e.g. beef, lamb, pork)
Liver and Kidney*
Chicken and turkey
(especially the dark meat)
Canned sardines,
pilchards and tuna.
Even small
amounts of meat
or fish are useful
to help iron
absorption from
other foods.
Other foods
providing iron:
Breakfast cereals with
added iron
Pulses (e.g. baked beans and lentils)
Dried fruit like apricots
and raisins
Green vegetables.
*It is recommended that very small
amounts of these foods are given to
children no more than once a week.
Giving these foods
along with a source
of vitamin C will
help maximise iron
Veggie kids
A vegetarian diet can be a healthy
one for young children but it takes
careful planning to make sure that the
nutrients usually found in meat are
provided from other foods.
As red meat is a good source of iron, it’s
particularly important to include plenty of
alternatives such as pulses, bread and fortified
breakfast cereals (along with vitamin C-rich food
to help absorption). In a typical young child’s
diet, meat also provides important amounts of
other minerals, vitamins and protein.
To make sure your child isn’t missing out, try to
include meat ‘alternatives’ two to three times
each day such as nuts*, pulses (e.g. peas, baked
beans, chickpeas and lentils) and soya products
such as tofu, as well as plenty of milk, dairy foods
(cheese, yogurt and fromage frais) and eggs.
*see page 3 for advice on nuts.
A veggie diet can be quite bulky and
filling for a small child, so low-fibre,
nourishing choices such as eggs, cheese
and milk are important to help towards
your child’s nutrient intake.
If your child is vegan, ask your
GP to refer you to a Registered
Dietitian for specialist advice.
Nourishing nibbles
Between-meal snacks provide an
important nutrient and energy top-up for
small children. Nourishing nibbles include:
• Small sandwiches (filled with grated cheese,
egg, tuna or lean meat)
• Fingers of toast with cheese spread or
• Plain yogurt or fromage frais with added fruit
• Sliced or chopped fruit (e.g. apples, pears,
bananas and grapes)
• Raw vegetables, sliced or cut into sticks
(e.g. carrots, tomato and cucumber)
• Toasted muffin or bagel
• Cubes of cheese
• Rice cakes, bread sticks or oat cakes
• Small bowl of breakfast cereal and milk
• Scones, crumpets or pancakes
Keep snacks tooth-friendly
by keeping them sugar-free.
Too many snacks may not leave
enough room for main meals.
Milk and water are the best drinks for young
They are
teeth and
milk is
and water
are safe
for young
packed full
needed for
packed with
growth and
as protein, calcium,
potassium and a number of the B vitamins.
You can also give your child unsweetened fruit juice
with main meals - it contains vitamin C. But it isn’t
recommended between meals as it’s acidic and can
damage tooth enamel if it’s drunk too often. Fruit juice
should always be well diluted.
Squashes and other soft drinks are not
recommended for toddlers. Not only are they
bad news for teeth (even the ‘diet’ versions),
their nutrient content is low too. Toddlers
who drink them frequently can have less
room to eat well at mealtimes. If you do give
these drinks to your child, make sure they’re
well diluted in a cup at meal times. Fizzy
drinks should not be given at all.
It’s also best not to give young children
tea or coffee, as this may interfere
with iron absorption.
By the age of one, your
child should be using a cup
or beaker for their drinks.
Still using a bottle can slow
speech development and
damage their teeth.
Talking teeth
Help your nipper look after
their nashers.
1.Only give sugary foods, dried fruit and diluted
unsweetened fruit juice at mealtimes. This
will reduce the frequency of sugar intake - the
main cause of tooth decay (See pages 13 &
14 for more advice on sweet drinks).
Milk and water are good choices
for teeth between meals.
Although milk teeth will eventually be
replaced, they still need looking after as:
• They help to guide the permanent teeth into position
and without them the next set may be crooked
• They are important for the early development of
speech - it’s very tricky to pronounce S, TH and F
without teeth!
• They are needed for proper chewing
• A healthy smile will boost a child’s confidence
2.It’s OK to give children sweets occasionally,
but don’t offer them regularly. If you do let
your child have sweets, it’s less harmful for
their teeth if they eat the sweets all at once,
at the end of a meal.
3.Help your child to brush their teeth
thoroughly twice a day - a smear of fluoride
toothpaste is all that’s needed until 3 years,
a pea-sized blob is all that’s needed for older
children. You’ll need to help them to brush
effectively until they are at least 7 years old.
4.Visit the dentist regularly for check-ups
and advice.
Say cheese
Eating a small piece of hard cheese will
provide calcium. Calcium is needed for
strong teeth.
Menu ideas
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Porridge with milk
Small cup of
unsweetened apple
juice (diluted)
Wholewheat biscuit
cereal with milk and
raisins or dried apricots
Small cup of
unsweetened orange
juice (diluted)
Malt loaf with banana
Rice cakes
Plain pancake with
fromage frais and sliced
Pitta Bread
pepper sticks
Lentil soup with
toast fingers
Carrot cake
Mushroom omelette
Carrot sticks (raw or
lightly cooked)
Rice pudding
Baked beans on toast
Plain yogurt with
Small cup of
unsweetened orange
juice (diluted)
Bread sticks
Mozzarella balls and
cherry tomatoes
Crackers with
Sliced apple
Oatcake with
cottage cheese
Tea / dinner
Beef mince and
vegetables with
mashed potato
Jelly with fruit and
dairy ice-cream
Tuna, bean, broccoli and
sweetcorn pasta
Fresh fruit plate
and vegetable curry
with rice
Stewed apple and
raisins with custard
This menu is intended as a guide for
food choice, with ideas for foods to try.
A five year old will eat considerably
more than a one year old and so the
menu does not give portion sizes.
Give your child water throughout the
day as required.
Evening drink
Magic mealtimes
• Use brightly coloured, child-sized cups,
plates and cutlery.
• Present the food in an attractive,
toddler-friendly way - make it interesting
and colourful.
• Try to eat together - sit at the table with
your child and have something yourself.
• Turn off distractions such as the TV,
DVD or computer game and have a
chat during the meal.
• Let your child help with simple food
preparation or laying the table - they’ll
love feeling involved.
• Try not to get too wound up if your
child makes a mess. It’s all part of
learning about food!
• Encourage new foods and don’t worry
if they are rejected, just try again
another day.
Fussy eaters
It’s very common for young children to go
through phases of being fussy about what
they eat - sometimes eating very little,
refusing to eat certain foods at all (even
ones they previously liked) or wanting to
eat the same thing day after day.
As stressful
as this can be, it’s
rarely harmful. In
fact, fussy eating
is a normal part of
children growing up
and asserting their
How to cope
• Try to keep calm! It’s important not to turn
mealtimes into a battleground.
• If, after gentle encouragement, your child refuses to eat something, just remove the food without
making a fuss.
• Never force your child to clear their plate but praise
them when they do eat up or try something new.
• Foods that are rejected on one occasion may well
be accepted the next, so keep offering a range of
foods. Sometimes you may need to offer a food 10
to 15 times before your child will like it.
• Changing the form a food is given in can also make
it more appealing. For example, a child might refuse
cooked carrots but like raw ones.
• Serve any new foods alongside old favourites.
• Keep portions small at first, you can always offer
• Don’t bribe them into eating something they don’t
want - for example, promising a pudding if they eat
their greens.
Remember, these phases do pass!
But if you are worried about
your child’s eating habits, talk
to your GP or Health Visitor.
Healthy Start Scheme. Healthy Start Vitamins
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
The Department of Health. Birth to Five http://
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
The Department of Health. Factsheet 2. Physical
activity guidelines for early years (under 5s)
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
NHS Choices. Pregnancy and baby. Babies and
toddlers. Understanding food groups
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
Department of Health (1991) Dietary Reference
Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the
United Kingdom: Report of the Panel on Dietary
Reference Values of the Committee on Medical
Aspects of Food Policy. London: HMSO. (Report
on Health and Social Subjects; 41)
Food Standards Agency (2002) McCance and
Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, 6th
edition. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry
NHS Choices. 5 A DAY portion sizes
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
Allergy UK. Milk Allergy
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.
Review of Dietary Advice on Vitamin A
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
NHS Choices. Pregnancy and baby. Babies and
toddlers. Drinks and cups for children
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
The Caroline Walker Trust. Eating well for under5s in child care
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
The Department of Health. Delivering Better Oral
Health. An evidence-based toolkit for prevention
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
BUPA. Caring for your child’s teeth
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
NHS Choices. Pregnancy and baby. Babies and
toddlers. Fussy eaters
(Date Accessed: 07/2012)
For details on additional information sources please contact The Dairy Council
Last reviewed: 01/08/2012
Next review due: 01/08/2013
Tel 020 7467 2629
[email protected]
For free copies of The Dairy Council’s
publications visit www.milk.co.uk
© The Dairy Council 2012